Tour preview: Stage 10

The last day in the Vosges, a spectacular summit finish, the day before the first rest day, and it’s Bastille Day. Oh yes, I sense French-flavoured breakaways and GC fireworks.

Monday 10th July: Stage 10 – Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, high mountains, 161.5km

TdF 2014 St 10 profile

The 20km roll out from Mulhouse is the only stretch of flat tarmac the peloton will see today. After that they are either climbing or descending over six mountains – three of which are cat 1s – before the final leg-breaking climb to the summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles. Tony Gallopin will have his hands full trying to defend the yellow jersey he claimed yesterday, and the GC contenders will be shaken up by the end of this day.

Yes, it’s Bastille day so I expect to see a breakaway go with several French riders in the top ten: Blel Kadri again, Thomas Voeckler, maybe Romain BardetThibaut Pinot and Pierre Rolland (Europcar)?

PROFILCOLSCOTES_2

For a climb that has only featured once before in the tour, La Planche des Belle Filles has assumed almost legendary status already. It’s not hard to see why. An average of 8.5% for the ascent hides the fact that the riders have to negotiate several sections of 11% or more, and then find the energy and belief for that final steep ramp of 20%. Do watch out for the finish line camera shots where the riders just appear out of nowhere. I love it!

Link: Official website

Header image: Mulhouse cathedral.

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